District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on Thursday (December 8, 2022), a St. Tammany Parish jury unanimously found Nelson Joel Torres, age 39 and of Slidell, guilty as charged of sexual battery of a child under the age of thirteen. District Judge William Burris presided over the case. Torres faces between 25-99 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 19, 2022.
On October 25, 2019 the Slidell Police Department received a complaint from the victim’s aunt/guardian. She stated that she’d left her niece and 1 other young child with the defendant, (her live-in boyfriend), while she worked. She stated that when she arrived home she found her niece texting the defendant via a tablet computer. She also saw blood on the victim’s clothes and body. The defendant had left the home.
The victim told police, through a translator, that while she was cleaning the kitchen, the defendant “picked [her] up and carried [her] into the bedroom” and sexually assaulted her. The victim was taken to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for a medical exam and DNA was collected from her body and clothing. The victim turned over her tablet to police.
The defendant returned home and was taken into custody. When questioned, he chose to remain silent. During the execution of a search warrant, crime scene technicians collected bloodied laundry belonging to the victim and bedding from the room where the abuse reportedly took place.
Examination of the victim’s tablet revealed many messages from defendant’s phone to the victim’s device including instructions from the defendant to "delete messages" and "erase everything." The victim testified that the defendant also sent her “videos of people doing intimate things.”
The defendant testified as well, denying that he was even at home that morning and that the DNA found on the bedding was there because the kids were “always in that bed.” He said the messaging was between him and his partner, who also used the tablet. He didn’t have a response as to why the DNA, consistent with his, was found on the victim’s body and underwear.
A DNA expert testified that the probability that the DNA was from a random male person outside of the defendant’s family line, would be 1 in an amount double the population of the world.
Assistant District Attorney Iain Dover wants to thank the jury. “We want to make sure that when children come forward, they are heard, believed and that going forward they will be protected. And that’s what this jury has done.”
Assistant District Attorneys Iain Dover and Elizabeth Authement prosecuted the case.